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Teens get hands-on firefighting experience during summer camp

The camp hopes to get young people interested in a career as a firefighter or a medic.
A participant in the Lakeland Fire Department's camp gets hands-on practice with a firehose.

The sirens blared from Fire Station 7 ladder trucks Tuesday morning with a group of eager students standing by in awe.

The Lakeland Fire Department hosted its 3rd Annual Teen Firefighter Camp under the watchful eye of Chief Doug Riley.

“We want to get to them at a younger age and remind them that this is an option,” he said. “It’s very exciting for me and my team to have the kids come out and participate and have an opportunity to see the day in the life of a firefighter.”

The teenagers got to experience what life as a firefighter is like, including getting hands-on experience with extrication exercises and firefighting gear.

A participant in the Lakeland Fire Department's camp practices extricating someone from a wrecked car.

The event is designed to teach participants more about careers in the fire service.

“I’ve known since I was a little kid, like these guys,” said firefighter Matt Barr. “Hopefully some of these guys and girls go away wanting to be a firefighter someday.”

The Lakeland Fire Department hopes the camp will tip teens towards an interest in a career in fire safety and paramedics.

Exposure to the department hit home with a lot of the students in attendance.

“It’s been cool so far. I’m excited to learn more about it,” said 13-year-old Jayann Westby.

LFD hosted approximately 60 students. They came from summer camps throughout Polk County, including the City of Lakeland's Teen Adventure Service Camp, Boys and Girls Club of Lakeland, and Campfire Sunshine.

Established in 1916, the Lakeland Fire Department has seven stations serving approximately 100,000+ people in the City of Lakeland. Last year, the department responded to over 25,500 service calls in its 84-square-mile response area.

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